Eddie Jones says he believes "100 per cent" that England can beat New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday – and his side were handed a major boost on Sunday after World Rugby decided not to take any action over Owen Farrell's controversial tackle on Andre Esterhuizen in the 12-11 victory over South Africa.

The Springboks were privately furious that Farrell's hit on Esterhuizen, which was reviewed by referee Angus Gardner and the television match official in a dramatic finish to a thrilling Test match, did not even merit a penalty as it would have given them a chance to kick at goal to win the match with the final play.

Farrell had been in an upright position when he hit Esterhuizen high on his chest with a possible sanction also resting on whether Farrell had used his arms in the collision.

World Rugby has adopted a zero-tolerance approach to high tackles for this autumn Test series, a crackdown that has also led to a rash of red cards and suspensions in European club matches this season.

Advertisement

Match citing commissioner Keith Brown, of New Zealand, who had 24 hours to review the incident, however on Sunday decided not to make any citings from the match, which leaves Farrell free to play.

Any incident has to meet a red-card threshold to be cited, while a citing commissioner warning, which could also have been issued without a hearing, is for foul play that is deemed between a red and yellow card.

One senior administrator on Sunday night questioned the decision not to cite given the recent high-profile drive to eradicate dangerously high tackles from the game, while World Rugby was also facing questions as to whether the tackle should at least have warranted a penalty.

Farrell admitted he had been worried when the collision was reviewed by the TMO but insisted he had attempted to make a fair tackle.

"Whenever anybody goes to the big screen to the TMO and slows it down like they did do then of course I was worried," said Farrell, who kicked three of England's four penalties in a victory laced with courage and resilience that sets the tone for their autumn campaign.

England's Owen Farrell. Photo / AP
England's Owen Farrell. Photo / AP

Jones, who earlier this week supported the crackdown on high tackles even if it meant red cards deciding Test matches this autumn, also claimed the tackle had been fair. "It was a good solid tackle. It's not for me to adjudicate," he said.

The loss of Farrell would have been a major blow to Jones' hopes of plotting victory against a side who England have not beaten since 2012. England's co-captain, along with Dylan Hartley, delivered an imperious display on only his third start for his country at fly-half and he encapsulated his side's warrior spirit on Saturday against a Springbok side who dominated possession and territory.

"He was absolutely outstanding mate," Jones added. "He defended well and he led the team in spirit."

Jones said the victory, which eases the pressure on the head coach after just one win in the previous six Tests, would make "everyone feel a bit better" and was adamant he and his squad believed they could defeat the world champions.

"I said to the boys after this game that I can't wait," Jones added. "They are the benchmark for world rugby; the team you want to play against. Any team that wins 91 per cent of their games is a great team. What other teams in world sport do that?

"I remember facing the All Blacks twice as a player. Once was for my club, Randwick, and we believed we could beat them. I think we got beaten 21-12. We had the smallest losing margin of any team on tour, including Australia, because we believed we could beat them. I played against them the next week, for New South Wales, and we got beaten 50-0. No one in that side believed they could beat them.

"You've got to believe you can beat them. You've got to understand where they're weak, understand where they're strong and be disciplined in your game plan."

Jones named a 35-man squad on Sunday night, with flanker Tom Curry, who sustained an ankle injury, a doubt for Saturday's game.

Gloucester No 8 Ben Morgan has been ruled out with a shoulder injury he sustained in Portugal earlier this week, while there is no place either for Ted Hill, the Worcester flanker.

Joe Marchant, the Harlequins centre, has been added to the squad for the first time this series although Manu Tuilagi is expected to be fit for Saturday having missed the victory over the Springboks with a minor groin strain.